LOFTY GOALS

Saudi Arabia 2020 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

SAIP strives to become a globally respected, fully integrated IP authority and establish itself as the IP hub in the Middle East and North Africa.

Abdulaziz M. AlSwailem
BIOGRAPHY
Abdulaziz M. AlSwailem has been the CEO of SAIP since its inception in mid-2018 and was instrumental in the establishment of the organization. He holds a PhD from the University of Sheffield in the field of biotechnology and genetic engineering. He has extensive experience in intellectual property rights, serving as an adviser to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and UNESCO. He has been Vice President for Scientific Research Support at KACST since 2009. He is a member of the Board of Directors of King Faisal Specialist Hospital, CITC, and various other organizations.

When SAIP was established, patents, trademarks, copyrights, and industrial design came together under one organization. Could you tell us more about the process of bringing these IP responsibilities together?

IP is a key factor for the future development of Saudi Arabia's economy, and Vision 2030 stipulates targets that are directly enabled by IP. In line with this, Council of Ministers Resolution 410 set forth new governance for IP in the Kingdom in the shape of SAIP. IP is internationally regulated by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), which leads the growth of a balanced and effective international IP system that promotes innovation and creativity for the benefit of its member states. The IP system, however, differs from country to country. Saudi Arabia decided to bring all IP fields under one unified authority, and SAIP was established as one of the initiatives of the trade and investment ecosystem to facilitate business, support the national economy, encourage investment, and boost the Kingdom's ranking on the World Competitiveness Index. Bringing these IP responsibilities together helps us to see the whole picture, making it easier to revise and draft laws and regulations.

What approach should companies or individuals wanting to register IP take?

IP assets play a growing role as the importance of a knowledge-based economy develops in Saudi Arabia. Companies or individuals wanting to register their IP should first identify which type of IPs they have. In this context, SAIP launched “What is your IP?" an electronic tool at the SAIP Website (saip.gov.sa) that helps applicants identify the type of their IP. In the current situation, we have an electronic platform for filing patent applications. All the processes of a patent filing are electronic; Saudi Arabia is among the first countries that started to file patents electronically. Our first initiative is to revise all our processes to increase efficiency. The second initiative is to translate all these processes into an IT system that is not off the shelf. The third initiative is to ensure we have the proper infrastructure to implement all these processes. Currently, 75% of our services are done electronically, and we are working hard to convert the other 25%.

Can you walk us through your international affiliations?

Our vision is to be a hub in the MENA region, and to do this we extended our collaboration with international affiliates. We have signed an agreement with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA), and Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO). We have started collaborating with the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore and have an agreement with the European Patent Office. Those agreements are focused on the exchange of expertise and capacity building, which is crucial to become an excellent IP office or authority. Second is the exchange of data, and while there is a fast track of patent offices, we seek to sign Patent Prosecution Highway agreements with those offices to exchange our examination reports, which will increase the speed of finalizing patents and reduce the backlog in our office. Third is to share our policies and guidelines with other international offices in order to align with international best practices.

What are your strategic priorities for the coming years?

The short-term target is to revise our national laws and policies and work toward standardization. The second target is to increase the number of international treaties related to IP treaties joined by Saudi Arabia from six to 13 in 2020. The third target is to prepare an IP national strategy and set implementation plans and timeline in coordination with related entities. Lastly, we seek to move on with e-services in all our activities and set a strategy for backlog applications.